When you step on board a superyacht you access an environment that inspires you with unmatched privacy and a blend of performance, technology and design. In terms of engineering, a luxury yacht challenges limitations and sets a new course in excellence. Elite entertainment follows in the same path, whereby turning heads in an international market means the best examples can make a lasting impression on the people who matter most. Tony Steward is one of a select number of magicians to be awarded an Associate to the Inner Magic Circle and he’s drawing attention to close-up magic - a craft that’s stirring imaginations in the yachting world from Caribbean shores to the coastlines of the Mediterranean. One could say that magic is classic entertainment in a contemporary world, so here we explain what a close-up magician does and what to expect from a performance.
What to expect from a close-up magician?
Guest expectations differ greatly. Some assume Tony is a children’s entertainer (which he can and does do). Some people don't know what to expect, but within minutes they’re talking and laughing together and enjoying the magic - most importantly, never by embarrassing anyone or putting anyone in the spotlight.
If someone is booking Tony, they are looking at him to provide roaming entertainment. He moves between groups of people working the room (or deck) introducing himself and entertaining briefly with some tricks before moving on to the next group.
If Tony is booked for a dinner party he works with the chef and crew to time his interactions at the table between courses. If it’s a larger setting he will find out which tables have the longest wait time and coordinate his interactions to help the ambiance of the event.
All performances can be enjoyed close up but with the appropriate distance socially in terms of their private space without putting them on the spot. This is very important. Tony's approach is calm, relaxed and discreet. The emphasis is almost always on the guests doing the magic and not him. The aim is to make the guests feel special and fully immersed in the experience.
Tips & advice before booking VIP entertainment
Choosing a close-up magician to suit your event should be a process void of compromises. Yacht owners and guests should do extensive research prior to booking a magician, avoiding sub-par delivery and performances that are far from initial expectations.
David Smith, Global Booking Manger for Tony Steward, shares his insight with some helpful guidance on what clients should consider before booking a close-up magician for their yachting event.
“Ability is a natural indicator for high standards. Clients should be looking for a minimum of MMC status, which is Member of the Magic Circle meaning the magician must know at least two other members, face an interview and then an examination or thesis.” He adds, “A higher level of membership is known as AIMC, Associate to the Inner Magic Circle. This truly separates magicians as it’s not easy to achieve this degree; if an AIMC Magician has been awarded the degree with 'Silver Star' it signifies the holder's excellence as a performer (as opposed to historian, inventor or noteworthy volunteer to the society).”
A professional entertainer can prove to be the cherry on the cake for any significant milestone, therefore credibility is another consideration. David says the best approach to take when considering booking a close-up magician is to think about longevity, trust and professional values - especially when performing on a high-asset vessel where environmental and circumstantial elements can vary.
“From a client perspective, Tony’s fee is a full service that includes an Account Manager 24/7, logistics managed, high-level performance, discretion, credibility, ability, professionalism and reliability. Tony has over 3 decades of experience - you can’t mimic that. I’d advise anyone to check a close-up magician is a full member of Equity which is a union of over 45,000 performers and creative practitioners. This gives confidence that the performer is backed by appropriate insurances specifically designed to cover them in their line of work.”
Taking his cue to create a celebratory mood at premium events, Tony is experienced at making himself and his purpose understood. His vast experience means he has successfully mastered performing at various venues, confidently showcasing the art of magic without losing sight of the delicate balance between cultural understanding and appealing to different audiences and age ranges.
“Tony’s illusions are quick and visual, it's a universal language that everyone can follow. He provides 'Bespoke Illusions' where he curates illusions and tricks for fun which are unique to the key individual. Led by the client, he can design illusions from scratch for a specific guest or VIP on board. For example, a trick including the name of the individual, something around their interests or hobbies, a special date or engraving a yachts name into a keepsake that the guest retains as a memento.”
Each scenario is different, so the levels of detail and preparation depend on the service the client wants.
“It takes time to curate illusions based around the special interests of the VIP, perhaps their favourite wine or sport,” David says. “Booking early is advised, because Tony is often in demand in different locations at very short notice. Our vigorous planning means we need a minimum of 10-14 days to craft illusions and physically create the props and elements which are all bespoke.”
Privacy and reputation in the yachting world
Tony is widely recognised for his values performing for the world’s largest superyachts and discerning clients who require the utmost privacy and assurance of quality. Reputation is the single most important currency in the industry and a powerful form of marketing.
Testimonials provide weight that he is known in the same circles. Nothing reinforces his reputation more than personal recommendations from well-established yachting professionals whom have seen him first hand in person, or a superyacht Captain telling another that Tony is reliable, trustworthy and professional.
Apart from this, there are specific nuances in the yachting world that can only be appreciated and respected after numerous years working in the space. Social media is compelling from a lifestyle point of view; however, a VIP client needs to be reassured that the magician isn’t going to take photos of guests on board a yacht charter to share on their social media without permission.
“To have been seen and loved by people operating at a high level of confidentiality aboard superyachts is a fantastic credit to our portfolio,” says David. “There are many movie stars, singers and sports professionals that Tony has entertained for privately that nobody knows about.”
The opportunity to go on board a luxury yacht enables Tony to bring the best of entertainment to far corners of the world, where every minute of his performances is made to order. When you own a superyacht and are the master of your time, creating memorable occasions with your family, friends or business partners is a feeling to set anchor for.